As the French situation at Verdun was becoming more and more severe, General Joffre appealed to the other Allies for a diversionary action someplace else in order to compel the Germans to withdraw part of their forces from the offensive.
Nicholas II acceded to the French request, choosing the Lake Naroch area in White Russia (Belarus) because there 350,000 Russians (parts of two army groups) faced just 75,000 Germans under General Eichhorn.
|Russian Depiction of the Fighting at Lake Naroch
(The Germans Seem to be Retreating Here)
After a two-day artillery barrage, however, the advance was annihilated by the well-entrenched German defenders. The maximum Russian advance in just a scattering of places was merely a few hundred yards. In the month following, the Germans regained all the lost territory. A secondary assault to the north against Riga under the command of Aleksei Kuropatkin, the defeated general of the Battle of Mukden in the Russo-Japanese War, failed similarly. With its tactical failure and the 100,000 casualties suffered, the main result of the campaign was its blow to Russian morale, already on the decline after the great retreat of 1915. It had no impact on the assault at Verdun.